LEXINGTON, Ky. – The University of Kentucky set a school record with six teams – men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s golf, softball and volleyball – that received Public Recognition Awards for their Academic Progress Rate scores, the NCAA announced Wednesday, May 16.
The Wildcat squads received the honor for placing in the top 10 percent of Division I schools in their respective sports. The APR provides a real-time look at a team's academic success by the progress of each student-athlete on scholarship. The APR measures academic eligibility, retention and graduation. The scores are a four-year composite, covering the 2013-14 through the 2016-17 school years.
Having six teams earn the APR Top 10 award breaks the school record of four set each of the previous two years. It’s also the first time that a UK squad has won in seven consecutive years, as this marks seven in a row for men’s golf. Men’s basketball earned the honor for the fourth consecutive year and fifth time overall. Women’s golf, softball and volleyball are two-year winners. Women’s basketball earned the award for the first time.
“To have nearly a third of our teams achieve perfect APR scores and receive this national recognition is a testament to the hard work of our students and the commitment our coaches and staff make to supporting them,” said Mitch Barnhart, UK Director of Athletics. “Congratulations to our men’s basketball, women’s basketball, men’s golf, women’s golf, softball and volleyball teams for earning these awards.”
The Wildcat coaches are excited about their teams’ achievements.
“We make a commitment to the University of Kentucky to recruit great athletes who excel in the classroom,” said volleyball coach Craig Skinner. “Our student-athletes care about their performance both in the classroom and on the court. This is a program that embodies character, discipline, and hard work and it shows with consistent successes in each area. (Academic counselor) Amy Craiglow guides our players through their academic careers and challenges them to be their best. This recognition is a compliment to her efforts.”
“I’m very proud of this team for continuing to uphold the standard both on the field and in the classroom for Kentucky softball,” said coach Rachel Lawson. “We place a big emphasis on academics and our players choose majors that will help them succeed in life after softball. By continuing to be in the top 10 percent of APR, we continue to show our dedication to academics. Amy Craiglow and the staff at CATS do an outstanding job of working with our student-athletes and we would not be where we are academically without them.”
“We are proud to be back in the top 10 percent of the country in the APR standings,” said women’s golf coach Golda Borst. “We are very grateful for our CATS counselor, Joshua Ray, who works really hard to support our students day by day. His guidance, along with all the support from everyone at CATS, has been invaluable as our students reach their goal of graduating from the University of Kentucky.”
"I am fortunate to coach a superb group of young men who make academic excellence a priority,” men’s golf coach Brian Craig said. “Our season basically does not stop all year and these guys continue to get it done in the classroom. A huge and sincere thank you to Amy Craiglow, our academic advisor and coach. I am always amazed at Amy's commitment to the academic success of our student-athletes. She is truly exceptional."
“This is an incredible honor for us and shows how hard our students and staff have worked to create a culture of academic excellence within our program,” said women’s basketball coach Matthew Mitchell. “We try to put an increased importance on academics from day one and explain to our players that there is life after basketball and now is the time to prepare. As our academic counselor, Tiffany Hayden does a fantastic job getting that message across, which is evident by this award, our 100% graduation rate and 10 straight semesters with a team GPA of 3.0 or better.”
“Our whole mindset is preparing our kids for the rest of their lives,” men’s basketball coach John Calipari said. “It’s about taking that next step to what they are going to do once they leave Kentucky. For some kids that’s playing professional basketball. For others it’s outside of basketball. Whatever they decide to do – whatever their ‘genius’ is in – it’s our job to make sure they’re prepared when they leave here. With 18 players who have graduated over the last nine years, I believe we’ve done that. Our kids are committed to learning and take care of business in the classroom. We teach growth in all areas. It’s well documented what our players learn about giving back that they carry with them for the rest of their lives. If they decide to pursue their genius and play professional basketball, they know they have lifetime scholarships so they can come back and finish their degree. Whether they leave early or stay here, they’re in good academic standing and on schedule to graduate. Michael Stone and the CATS staff do a wonderful job of making sure our kids are lifelong learners.”
The APR scores of these teams, along with the scores of every Division I team in all sports, will be released later by the NCAA. Teams are subject to penalties if the APR target score is not achieved.
Wednesday's news is a continuation of the academic accomplishments of UK student-athletes:
In November, it was announced that UK Athletics set a record for NCAA Graduation Success Rate. UK has broken or tied the GSR record every year since the NCAA began measuring that statistic in 2005.
Last week, it was announced that UK athletes have posted an overall grade-point average over 3.0 in each of the last 12 semesters.
Including the 2017 winter commencement and the recent spring graduation ceremonies, 97 Wildcat student-athletes have earned degrees during the 2016-17 school year.